What Is the Order of Belts for Karate?

By Tom Gresham

The belt system in karate, which dates to the late 19th century, features a succession of nine different colored belts. The belts, in order of attainment, are white, yellow, orange, green, blue, purple, brown and black. Previously, karate practitioners dyed their belt the appropriate new color when they gained a new rank, according to the World Martial Arts Center. Today, karate students receive a completely new belt in the appropriate color when they rise to a new level.


The white belt denotes a beginner. In order to attain subsequent belts, karate participants must pass a grading examination. This varies by belt level, growing increasingly more demanding, but tests generally cover proficiency, technique, consistency of training and demonstrated progress, according to Dynamic Karate. The applicant is expected to demonstrate a higher level of technique and knowledge in the areas of basics, form and sparring. Karate students must receive the approval or recommendation of an instructor before advancing to a new level. Although the physical examinations ultimately are subjective and dependent upon the opinions of an instructor, tests for advanced belts may include oral and written requirements, according to Dynamic Karate.

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